This artifact archive concerns the two horse treadmill (below) now housed in the Exhibition Hall, having been moved from the Machine Shed before it was demolished in 2007. It dates from about 1900 and was manufactured by Heebner & Sons out of Lansdale, PA. Davis Heebner (1810-1900) was a farmer, and in 1840 took out a loan to begin making agricultural equipment. He had four sons, Isaac, Jacob, Josiah and William, who were all active in the company. The first equipment to roll of the line was threshing machinery, then mowers, and then tread power. By 1877, Heebner & Sons was sending their treadmills throughout North America with international inquiries into their equipment.1

Through a wheel and track arrangement, two horses walked abreast to power stationary agricultural equipment, like threshers. Tread power was already in use by the 1830’s and was one of the only means of rotary power available to a farmer, unless he was lucky enough to live near water.2 In this drawing (below) you can see that the treadmill was elevated at an angle, with a belt wheel. If a horse weighed 1,600 lbs and walked 2 mph, it generated 2.13 horsepower.3 Charlton Park’s treadmill is no longer in perfect shape after spending many years in the Machine Shed, but still is an interesting piece. If you would like to view this item in pristine condition visit the link below for The Henry Ford Museum.

The Exhibition Hall display at Charlton Park will be getting finished up over the next couple of months. Look for new signage and object information to complete the display. The horse treadmill, as well as one for a dog(!), will be on display in the center when the exhibit is complete.

2 Wendel, C.H. Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements & Antiques. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 1997.
3 Barlow, Ronald S. 300 Years of Farm Implements and Machinery. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2003.

Black and white drawing can be found in Hurt, R. Douglas. American Farm Tools from Hand-Power to Steam-Power. Manhattan, KA: Sunflower University Press, 1989. p.73